I'm back, and I have a 2016 recap!

The Heart of the Prog/Power Movement

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Random Axe
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I'm back, and I have a 2016 recap!

Postby Random Axe » Wed Jan 25, 2017 7:59 pm

This past year was a learning experience for sure, and recently I've had a major life change that turned out to be pretty incredible. I just kind of took a break from everything the last six months but with the upturn in my new life I felt it time to return to the original and first online group I ever joined back in 1998. To all that I promised discs to, I got a bit distracted by being unemployed for many months but I am going to send out everything.

So, I had a huge 2016 music wise. I discovered a lot of older bands I'd missed out on and re-discovered bands I'd forgotten about. With a new focus on what's important in my life, my music and my music friends will not be put to the side again. Okay, enough personal nonsense rambling, onto my recap, in no particular order. I'm sure I left out some good stuff, but maybe I'll have enough ammo for a part 2.


Enbound/The Blackened Heart – This is the power metallish side project of the Work of Art singer.  It’s not super heavy, not super speedy but more of an amalgam of AOR and Kamelot-lite.  There are moments where he is out of his natural element, but overall a very enjoyable listen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lySYCcIDc5E

Mecca/III – I’m a TOTO fan, and I’m not sure if that disqualifies me from this group, but this album is really close to their 80’s sound with some Survivor mixed in.  It’s not as heavy as I’d have liked in certain areas but the lush, mellow vibe sticks with you.  This is also one of the better releases I’ve heard in a while from a production standpoint, super crisp audiophile kind of stuff.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39-K_hKSTzU

Evergrey/Storm Within – Initially I was underwhelmed with this but I attribute that to the time period I received this when I was adjusting to a new career and had a lot of new music at once.  After a couple of months I pulled this out and BOOM I was super impressed.  They lyrical content alone makes this pretty special, but Tom really sells these songs, perhaps his best vocals to date.  I still miss the SDT keys of days past but wow this one grabbed me on second chance.  Fantastic album that I know will get better with me.

Southern Empire – This is prog, soft rock, easy listening, new age, rock and jazz.  Normally this would not be on my CD shelf but here we are with some of the smoothest modern prog rock I’ve heard in ages.  The melodies and choruses, especially on the song How Long, just will not leave your head.  The tunes are long, with one being over 20 minutes, but many don’t seem like it.  The saxophone solos and intros are just amazing and totally fit with the songs. This is a new acquisition for me so I’m still absorbing but if you’re open minded and just want to kick back by the fireplace with a snifter of brandy this is your album.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNOPBWy_4g0

Binary Creed/Battle Won – I’ll echo previous sentiments that the production is sterile and cold, but I think that’s attributable to their essence.  They’re persona as a band represents the dichotomy of technology vs. humanity and the sound overall has a computerized feel, almost inhuman.  That’s my take. The songs aren’t as good as the previous but still in line with their catalog.  The singer’s tone can be annoying in large doses, but put this on shuffle in your ipod metal mix and it’ll sound different.  Good album that could have been far better.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2E1hXCXpng

Povertys No Crime/Spiral of Fear – This is a good return to form, but I was never a huge fan of the band, just bits and pieces.  This came out early in the year and has been ecplised by a number of subsequent releases but it’s very, very solid.  Not one song stood out to me, but that’s a course par for me with their entire discography.  

Hardline/Human Nature – Paint by numbers standard Frontiers AOR dreck. I’d never had anything from them but this came highly recommended.  Cliché, overproduced melodic rick fluff without substance or style.  

Cyrenic/Medusa – I pimp these guys every other year with each new release to completely no avail.  Super tight modern rock with powerful lyrics and now a much more vibrant production.  I think they could have reduced the track count on this, but overall my favorite of their releases.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZB8BIdWUQE

Odd Logic/Penny for Your Thoughts – While I was really drawn into this by the vocals, the compositions got a bit too quirky for me.  I wasn’t connecting at all.  I appreciate the talent on display and I’ll certainly go back and give this another shot, but being a download only kind of cheapens the experience.

Treat/Ghost of Graceland - Well, this came out of nowhere as previously I'd never heard of this longtime AOR band. With this new material, they have left the fluff behind replacing it with some heavy guitars and soaring vocals. THis just missed out on my top five this year, just barely.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnIlzxcb5zo

Pretty Maids/Kingmaker - Add this to the list of bands I've been converted to this year. I'd not liked any of their songs before and never owned a single album. I'm now on a mission to grab the entire back catalog as this one made such a huge impression on me. They went down a heavy path apparently and have cranked out some serious pounders and fist pumpers on this one. The title track is incredible and is what will or will not reel you in. Fantastic release. I'm now a fan.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EV6ebCgH-dI

Innerwish/st - Damn. This one grabbed me from the first notes and never let go. I'm not generally a power metal fan but the hook and melodies on this are irresistible. Plus, this is the singer from Fragile Vastness and that adds a level of pedigree that is instant credibility. This is quite varied in compositions and shows what a band in this genre is capable of.

Myrath/Legacy - I'm torn on this one. While its catchy and hooky, those can't be the only qualities. I just made zero connection with this on several attempts. The riffs and ethnic influences are fantastic but I just fell short of "getting it". I am open to more repeats, though. There's too much quality not to give this more time.

MY BIG THREE

Theocracy/Ghost Ship - I'll start this summary by stating I only previously owned the debut and only liked a few of those songs. I'd read they had gone down the speed metal path in the last decade and I just never pursued their albums so imagine my surprise when the sample songs started filtering out and all I'd avoided was not actually there. Then, the official video for the title track is released and I'm just blown away. Such power, grace, positivity, heaviness, melodic and just powerful in every way possible. The entire album is a masterclass in upbeat, positive metal. Sure, there are a couple of speedy parts but they are part of the overall package that is Ghost Ship, and that's a boat I'll jump on anytime. I have since gone back and purchased the remaining CD's from them and found them to be nearly as brilliant.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9fpNQ67SaE

Redemption/Art of Loss - This came out at a particularly vulnerable time in my life, but you guys know what happened to me. It was a couple of months later, and the change of pace, the uplifting qualities that the band had always hinted at in prior albums, had been brought to the front of the mix and it all just clicked with me. I see some were not engaged with the new direction, but it really wasn't a different path, it was just paved differently. Some of the character of the band was obviously missing with Bernie not being able to record this time around, but bringing in the level of musicians Nick did was a stellar move. I was thinking Ray could not be sounding any better than this in 2016. I was wrong.

Fates Warning/Theories of Flight - A friend of mine described how he chose Fates over Redemption on his year end list and it made perfect sense. While Redemption delivered the badass quality album everyone expected, Fates Warning over delivered in every possible way and blew away all expectations with this fresh, invigorated album. This is solidly my third favorite FW disc behind APSOG and Parallels. Every part of this album is near perfection. Bobby just blows up this disc with what I consider the best drumming I'd heard in the 20-teens. When I spoke to Jim and Ray on their tour they said this new stuff would build upon the last album but would incorporate some components of the past and mix it into a modern style. When listening to songs like Seven Stars it really sounds like a modern version of Pale Fire. I can't gush enough about this album, so I'll stop writing. In my mind, and I'm an Alder era FW whore, this album is perfection. Even the bonus disc is amazing!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hguUU-VYug

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Mardoch
Posts: 462
Joined: Sat Sep 14, 2013 10:05 am
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: I'm back, and I have a 2016 recap!

Postby Mardoch » Thu Jan 26, 2017 12:28 am

Welcome back, bud! Glad to see you've got a restored pep to your step.

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Nos
Posts: 254
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2014 1:41 pm

Re: I'm back, and I have a 2016 recap!

Postby Nos » Thu Jan 26, 2017 1:18 pm

Random Axe wrote:Theocracy/Ghost Ship - I'll start this summary by stating I only previously owned the debut and only liked a few of those songs. I'd read they had gone down the speed metal path in the last decade and I just never pursued their albums so imagine my surprise when the sample songs started filtering out and all I'd avoided was not actually there. Then, the official video for the title track is released and I'm just blown away. Such power, grace, positivity, heaviness, melodic and just powerful in every way possible. The entire album is a masterclass in upbeat, positive metal. Sure, there are a couple of speedy parts but they are part of the overall package that is Ghost Ship, and that's a boat I'll jump on anytime. I have since gone back and purchased the remaining CD's from them and found them to be nearly as brilliant.


"Mirror Of Souls" is fantastic, and easily my favorite. I don't know if you can do this really heavy, yet ultra-melodic type of power metal better than "Laying The Demon To Rest". That song slays.

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Chris R
Posts: 317
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2011 12:25 pm
Location: Tampa Bay

Re: I'm back, and I have a 2016 recap!

Postby Chris R » Fri Jan 27, 2017 8:54 am

Good stuff...I think I need to get on my best of list

Anyway
Agree 100% on fates warning
Tarja is a female woman
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Stevie WOnder
Posts: 4303
Joined: Sat Apr 17, 2004 12:06 am
Location: Quebec City

Re: I'm back, and I have a 2016 recap!

Postby Stevie WOnder » Mon Jan 30, 2017 10:56 am

Got the Theocracy because of your review. Really good stuff.

Thanks bro!!

Steve
"Manowar rules!!!" - Larry D

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ToddS
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Joined: Mon Apr 12, 2004 9:38 pm
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Re: I'm back, and I have a 2016 recap!

Postby ToddS » Sun Feb 12, 2017 3:21 pm

Random Axe wrote:Southern Empire – This is prog, soft rock, easy listening, new age, rock and jazz.  Normally this would not be on my CD shelf but here we are with some of the smoothest modern prog rock I’ve heard in ages.  The melodies and choruses, especially on the song How Long, just will not leave your head.  The tunes are long, with one being over 20 minutes, but many don’t seem like it.  The saxophone solos and intros are just amazing and totally fit with the songs. This is a new acquisition for me so I’m still absorbing but if you’re open minded and just want to kick back by the fireplace with a snifter of brandy this is your album.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNOPBWy_4g0

Redemption/Art of Loss - This came out at a particularly vulnerable time in my life, but you guys know what happened to me. It was a couple of months later, and the change of pace, the uplifting qualities that the band had always hinted at in prior albums, had been brought to the front of the mix and it all just clicked with me. I see some were not engaged with the new direction, but it really wasn't a different path, it was just paved differently. Some of the character of the band was obviously missing with Bernie not being able to record this time around, but bringing in the level of musicians Nick did was a stellar move. I was thinking Ray could not be sounding any better than this in 2016. I was wrong.

Fates Warning/Theories of Flight - A friend of mine described how he chose Fates over Redemption on his year end list and it made perfect sense. While Redemption delivered the badass quality album everyone expected, Fates Warning over delivered in every possible way and blew away all expectations with this fresh, invigorated album. This is solidly my third favorite FW disc behind APSOG and Parallels. Every part of this album is near perfection. Bobby just blows up this disc with what I consider the best drumming I'd heard in the 20-teens. When I spoke to Jim and Ray on their tour they said this new stuff would build upon the last album but would incorporate some components of the past and mix it into a modern style. When listening to songs like Seven Stars it really sounds like a modern version of Pale Fire. I can't gush enough about this album, so I'll stop writing. In my mind, and I'm an Alder era FW whore, this album is perfection. Even the bonus disc is amazing!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hguUU-VYug


These 3 made my top 10 with Redemption being #1. Very surprised, but cool to see Southern Empire on your list. Good stuff!
"My songs become my freedom, and my freedom turns to gold"


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